Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Eye in the Door

By Pat Barker.

The Eye in The Door is the second book of Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy. Whereas Regeneration focused on the relationship between Dr. William Rivers and Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart, this book deals with life on the home front in 1918 and the relationships between one soldier, an intelligence officer, and the various conscientious objectors, war resisters, and homosexuals he comes into contact with in London as part of his duties.

But that soldier, Billy Prior, was also not left unscathed by his time at the front. After a breakdown, he was removed from active combat duties and underwent several months of therapy at Craiglockhart. When ‘cured’ he was attached to the Department of Munitions in their Intelligence Division. It’s during his tenure there that we see him begin to break down emotionally and psychologically. Eventually he is forced to consult with the one man who had helped him previously – Dr. Rivers.

One tends to assume that the war effort was universally supported in England – how else to explain the continued recruitment of young men to throw into the meat grinder of the Western Front – but there was an active and organised resistance to the war in England at the time. The Eye in the Door offers an interesting glimpse of that world and with a narrative that is both compelling and disturbing, Barker delivers a fascinating read that offers one more perspective on The Great War and how it changed a generation.

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